By Eliezer Sherman
Archenemies Israel and Iran have some of the best cyber-warfare capabilities in the world, former National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander said.
They join the U.S., the U.K. and Russia as the world’s top countries for advancements in cyber warfare, Keith said in an interview with British newspaper the Daily Telegraph.
The former NSA chief, who also commanded the U.S. Cyber Command, warned that cyber-attacks were the greatest threats posed by jihadist terrorists.
In addition to terrorist groups, state-backed hackers are stealing technology from Western companies, he said, calling it “the biggest wealth transfer in history.”
“The greatest risk is a catastrophic attack on the energy infrastructure. We are not prepared for that,” said Alexander. He warned that terrorists could attack power stations, the banks and industrial refineries all at once.
Internet and cyber threat expert Dr. Tal Pavel at the Netanya Academic college in Israel echoed Alexander’s cautions, describing how advanced hackers could jumble the computer systems of a major hospital, with fatal results.
He said cyber-warfare was the greatest threat faced by “every modern country” by terrorist groups like the Islamic State, and called cyber-attacks the “modern day doomsday weapon.”
Still, he estimated that most government cyber-warfare “programs are basically defense oriented.”
This is because “the daily life of modern society is based on computers and technology,” he said, including “energy supply, of communication, of banking … transportation, etc.”
Cyber-warfare represents a “new balance of power between nations,” as well as the “new doomsday device of the 21st century.”
In 2010, a sophisticated computer worm named Stuxnet attacked the computers of Iran’s nuclear facilities, damaging infrastructure. It is widely believed that the U.S. and Israel were behind that attack.
Hackers sent out a fake tweet from the Associated Press’ Twitter handle in 2013 saying, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured,” disrupting markets and creating a brief public scare.